OKLAHOMA CITY - The Barons practiced on Thursday at the Cox Convention Center prior to this weekend's back-to-back set against the Milwaukee Admirals.
"We've got back-to-back games so it's pretty important that we look at some of the things that we have to do to win those games," said Barons head coach Todd Nelson. "Milwaukee's a skilled hockey team. They apply a lot of pressure. I expect it to be a fast-paced game."
The Barons went with lines similar to what they ran on Saturday against Abbotsford. Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle made up the top unit, Antti Tyrvainen, Mark Arcobello and Tyler Pitlick were skating together as well as Magnus Paajarvi, Anton Lander and Teemu Hartikainen with the other four forwards -- Byers, VandeVelde, House and Hamilton -- rotating in on line four.
Hartikainen didn't skate on Wednesday but was back on the ice and is ready to go this weekend.
"I got pretty banged up in Tuesday's game," said Hartikainen. "I was a little bit sick yesterday, too, so I had the day off without skating and rode a little bike and went home to rest.
"Now I feel better and I'm ready to go."
Cameron Abney did not skate on Thursday as he has been re-assigned to the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL.
Abney, a 6-5, 200-pounder from Aldergrove, B.C. has split time this season between Stockton and Oklahoma City. With the Barons, he has appeared in three games and served seven penalty minutes. Last season, the Oilers 3rd round draft choice (81st overall) in the 2009 NHL Draft also split time between Stockton and Oklahoma City. In 46 games last season, he recorded five points (2-3-5) while serving 156 penalty minutes.
The Barons boast the league's leading scorer in Justin Schultz. In 13 games, Schultz has seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points. Jordan Eberle is second in league scoring with 16 points (6g, 10a) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is in a tie for sixth with 14 points in 12 games. Taylor Hall has four points in five games and Teemu Hartikainen has 11 points in 13 games but outside of that, the Barons have had trouble getting consistent production from their forwards. Aside from the aforementioned, only Paajarvi and Arcobello have more than three points on the year.
Coach Nelson talked about coaching techniques to try and coax some offensive output from his players.
"Showing confidence in them. Giving them a pat on the back when they do things right out there and just keep at it. There's two ways of looking at it: you can either quit or you can keep on moving forward. If you're persistent and start to move forward, it'll start to happen. And once it does happen, it'll ease a lot of guys with their lack of confidence," said Nelson.
"Every team goes through this. I've seen this many times where a team goes through not generating five-on-five then all of a sudden they come in buckets."
The Barons haven't scored a five-on-five goal since November 3 -- a span of five games.
"We need more guys to step up and score some goals, especially five-on-five. We need some goals in the next few games so it's coming to the point where we have to take responsibility in scoring on the second, third and fourth line, too," Hartikainen began.
"Last year we played with all four lines and everybody was scoring. It's a big difference in games when everyone can score those big goals."
Hartikainen added that the secondary scoring would come in handy in games tied late and said that the team can't expect stars like Eberle, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins to carry the load.
"Maybe when they came down here in the first 10 games, everyone felt like those guys are going to finish the job and score for us but it's not the case," he said. "You need everyone involved. It's a big thing for a team if everybody is happy and everyone is scoring so we need that."
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